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TEA
11/09/2015 5:34pm,
OK, so I've been fascinated by swords since I was a kid - first by European style swords because of an early fascination with King Arthur and then with the Lord of the Rings, later with Japanese swords because of my interest in martial arts. Recently I managed to set aside some spending money and decided to shop around for a good quality Katana. Through the powerz of the InerWebz I stumbled upon what looks like a really good custom Katana offered in limited runs through the Sword Buyers Guide forum and Web site. However, they are not taking orders right now. After perusing their forum for a while, I ran across some new offerings in the form of European style swords from a company called Ronin Katana (http://roninkatana.com/), which like CAS Hanwei, has their forging operations in China. In this case, the town of Longquan, which has a very long history of sword making.

After almost pulling the trigger on a screaming deal on one of hex nut pommel long swords ($125 + $60 shipping), but I had second thoughts because of some negative reviews regarding failures of the welded tang extension for the hex nut. However, my interested in their Euro model swords had been piqued and I started to look at their peened pommel versions instead. I started looking at their peened pommel versions available for a bit more at the SBG Store ($199 + $15 shipping). I hesitated over whether to get the peened pommel two handed sword or the Viking sword, because the two handed peened version didn't have a fuller where as the hex nut version has a tripple fuller and because Vikings are cool. I've been avidly watching the TV show Vikiings on the History Chanel and more recently The Last Kingdom on BBCA. While I dithered, the two handed sword sold out. I took this as a sign from Thor to buy the Viking style sword.

Here is the review I posted on the SBG Forum:

Introduction

I found this forum through the SBG Sword Store while looking for a quality custom Katana. Though what formal sword training I have is via Kendo and Aikido, I have long been interested in European style swords, too. (link (https://sbg-sword-forum.forums.net/thread/46110/get-interested-swords)) After almost getting one of the KOA closeout specials on a Ronin Katana Euro Model 2 - two handed sword with hex nut pommel (I was torn between the two handed sword and the Viking sword, but the Viking sold out before I could decide), I backed out over concerns about the welded tang extension. However, after reading some of the reviews of the RK Euro swords with the peened pommels, I started looking at the $199 deal on the RK Euro models on the SBG Store. This time, the two handed model sold out before I could pull the trigger. Taking this as a sign from Thor, I bought the Viking model. (http://sbg-sword-store.sword-buyers-guide.com/product520.html)

Historical overview

While not based on any particular historical model, the RK Viking sword is "historically plausible" and replicate early Viking style swords.

Full Disclosure

I paid the full $199 plus shipping for this sword from the SBG store and have received no inducements or incentives to write this review.

Initial Impressions

I was very excited to find the sword was waiting for me when my wife and I came back from taking the kids to dinner.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtp1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/12112053_10153643980044590_8367684560201130410_n.j pg?oh=7a171c2906c7647f35654df2d314c4ef&oe=56BDA981

There was some damage to the box by UPS. Not only the end was crushed, but it was damp, too, as if something had spilled on it or it had been dropped in a puddle.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/12039500_10153643980114590_899618997029935153_n.jp g?oh=2d7eccc5e83d0bf7da680e54e3174e6a&oe=56BFE4F6

I was a bit nervous to open it given the damage to the outer box, but all was well inside. The inner box was undamaged and dry.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xla1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/12193446_10153643980329590_1350766420801892944_n.j pg?oh=3fd30edaa96338d5e1e400ef6263aa39&oe=56B35736
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/12189773_10153643980404590_8873341725105908945_n.j pg?oh=e83ae577e744c1676e7019c5cc23d555&oe=56B3328C
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpl1/v/t1.0-9/s720x720/11012028_10153643980454590_6771148450376828553_n.j pg?oh=aae7d99d89d7363ea94defef6a7a37cc&oe=56D023AF

All these first pics were with my cell phone camera. I waited til the next day to take some pics with a better camera.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/11049593_10153644637364590_8080760214823673974_n.j pg?oh=3104315d1e2ab7846ec1ca0a2e86a259&oe=56C80E93
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/12065947_10153644637804590_7065832768813973294_n.j pg?oh=9f5c34c7d7e00a71d6b25f575d94f58e&oe=56B38CB6

Overall, I was very impressed with the workmanship and the balance of this sword.

Statistics

Blade Length: 29.75"

(edited to add:) Blade Taper: 2.875" at the guard to 1" (measured 2" from the tip). The distal taper is fairly slight, going from 6mm at the guard to 4mm at about 2" from the tip.

Handle Length: 4.25"
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/12195805_10153644639539590_6108587968928241399_n.j pg?oh=9b9e306178b197581c69dbbae0f39207&oe=56CFC0C4

Overall Length: 35.75"

Guard Width: 3.5"
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/12190845_10153644638184590_680032742690945669_n.jp g?oh=a430f5e840b0991a738bc820e02b6d2c&oe=56B4C6D0

POB (Point of Balance): 5.5"

Weight: 2.6 lbs

Components

The Blade: The blade is mono-tempered 1075 steel with a fuller running the the length of the blade to just shy of the tip.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/12190931_10153644638939590_480518952068016441_n.jp g?oh=8172c03ad4594a2d2405e3ec98effdee&oe=56BF0356
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/12144878_10153645483299590_5953101153294188870_n.j pg?oh=18da6b8a1ae56ece024f0c988ff1f4d0&oe=56B7ACB9
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xft1/v/t1.0-9/12196004_10153644639574590_6373790561493862513_n.j pg?oh=7e1e718b829e00688d0e54d22e050e1d&oe=56CF84FE
The tip seems to be just a bit asymmetrical on one side.

The Handle: leather wrapped over wood core. Since the pommel is peened, I cannot take it apart to fully examine it. The leather wrapping seems nice and tight and did not loosen up any after cutting. For me, the handle seems a bit on the skinny side at 3.75" behind the cross guard and narrowing to 3.25" by the pommel. I took the measurements of a few other items to compare.

Windlass Scottish Cutlass: 4" to 3.75
boken: 4" to 3.75"
machete: 4" to 4.125" back down to 4"
pick axe handle: 4.25"
sledge hammer handle: 4"

Of these, the machete, sledge hammer and pick axe seem to give me the most secure grip. I suppose this is one area that is really up to personal preference, though.

The Guard: The guard is a simple rectangular design and the edges are a bit sharp. That said, it is well fit to the sword and, despite some speculation in another thread, is made of steel (a magnet sticks to it and the pommel).

The Pommel: Five lobed design made of steel with crisp edges and an excellent peen. https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/12190931_10153644638939590_480518952068016441_n.jp g?oh=8172c03ad4594a2d2405e3ec98effdee&oe=56BF0356
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpf1/v/t1.0-9/12189808_10153644637249590_2476663161639590298_n.j pg?oh=b95b76819d79821cb8d6fc3c98390490&oe=56C3F379
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/12079558_10153645483059590_7279112216272274589_n.j pg?oh=b93dbd9e1fbc11d38ce84679a674dd02&oe=56BCBEEF
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpa1/v/t1.0-9/12189080_10153644637144590_5929432786818085371_n.j pg?oh=67fdd84b7fbadcbe109d00ec91369fa0&oe=56C04DA6

The Scabbard: The scabbard is leather wrapped with steel fittings and faux leather straps for the faux leather suspension system that came with the sword. The scabbard seems well constructed and there is no "shwing" when drawing the sword. Also, the sheath firmly holds the sword in place, even when holding the sheath upside down and gently shaking it. However, the location of the straps for the suspension system are not ideally located, as the one closest to the handle is located right on the center of balance for the sheathed sword, so that the sword hangs horizontally from that strap and the other strap thus serves no function.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xaf1/v/t1.0-9/12065541_10153645482649590_3656951828673142933_n.j pg?oh=c4cabaad8dd0712118c86d1ea50334f6&oe=56CDC23F
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xtf1/v/t1.0-9/12193707_10153645482814590_8706052665675694857_n.j pg?oh=04c777e8b7bd54e5a5cd8c51885c3082&oe=56B20EC6
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xft1/v/t1.0-9/12187849_10153645733079590_8418830462508649673_n.j pg?oh=d3ac500d583e024fb2d4471e5f00f89b&oe=56B0A07B
The belt and suspension system itself is poorly designed and not very well constructed. The sword belt is riveted to the suspension system and the buckle and belt are of roughly equal lengths from where the sword hangs, so that the belt buckles behind my right hip.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfa1/v/t1.0-9/12189892_10153645733084590_7984416304529174000_n.j pg?oh=0e3bcff689fd9d034ab408d77b2b409d&oe=56CFBBDB
The only way I could make this work would be if I wore it as some sort of baldric.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/1239699_10153645733074590_66236485020550270_n.jpg? oh=09fa7a5003f0e6ac9459e99f03153d70&oe=56CA7033
Honestly, I think RK would be better off just leaving this belt contraption out of the package deal altogether. The sword and scabbard of are of good enough construction for the price that a cheap sword belt is a bit of a let down.

Another bothersome thing I found is that the inside of the scabbard leaves some sort of waxy deposit on the blade after sheathing and drawing the sword.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/12191038_10153645481799590_8495832793982941173_n.j pg?oh=ac2682d912ff7b837e537ccbd3be87e6&oe=56AD32D8
I'm not sure what's causing this. I gave the sword a good wipe down with an oily cloth, re-sheathed it, drew it and saw the above. Repeating this a couple of times yielded the same results. Hopefully, this will go away over time?

Handling Characteristics: The only swords I have this to compare to are Katana (other peoples' nice ones and my cheap wall hanger), boken, and a Windlass Scottish Cutlass I own. I'm not really used to one handed swords, so they feel a little awkward. However, I quite like the weight and balance of this sword. It is much lighter and livelier than the cutlass I own, while still having quite a bit of presence to the blade.

Test Cutting
First, I tried it out on the boxes it came in.
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/12115668_10153645482664590_1929025475401384701_n.j pg?oh=eb8be660de66ae837a3a7144f4185eb9&oe=56AD31BD
https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xpt1/v/t1.0-9/12079556_10153645481934590_8705404637019976340_n.j pg?oh=5c7ae4cad18770bbcce4e545e640e85e&oe=56C848FD
The sword cut through these boxes like a hot knife through butter with just a mild cut with the sword.

We had a Halloween party for my daughter and her friends that included pumpkin carving. Somehow, we ended up with a few extras. https://images.proboards.com/v5/smiley/wink.png
https://images.proboards.com/v5/bbcode/video-preview.png
Obviously, I need to work on my swordsmanship a bit and my daughter needs to work on her camera skills. https://images.proboards.com/v5/smiley/wink.png https://images.proboards.com/v5/smiley/wink.png https://images.proboards.com/v5/smiley/wink.png

Conclusions

Overall, I think this sword is great quality for the price. It certainly can cut.

Pros

- nice balance and handling
- well put together with nice fittings
- beautiful blade with nice wide fuller
- it can cut
- great price
- nice leather wrap on the scabbard with nice fittings (except as noted below)

Cons

- cheap sword belt and suspension system
- location for suspension system buckles on sheath just a hair to far towards the tip of the sword
- strange waxy deposits from sheath on sword
- handle is a bit skinny for my taste

The Bottom Line

I would recommend this sword to anyone looking for a good quality entry level Viking sword. It might not be fancy, but it gets the job done and it is extremely affordable.

frenchie88
11/09/2015 6:26pm,
Ronin Katana has some decent blades at affordable rates. Quite a few members of my dojo have purchased from the site. I myself may get a new shinken for Christmas. They also have a scratch and dent sale every so often.

TEA
11/09/2015 10:51pm,
Oops, my cutting video didn't post.


https://youtu.be/UQaVBjMX1wI

Having only trained in Japanese sword arts, and that only a very little, I found pretty quickly that it is much easier to overextend oneself with a one handed sword than a with a two handed sword. I'll need to do a lot more practice to gain any degree of proficiency with a one handed sword.

Here is a destructive testing video of the same type of sword posted by someone else:
https://youtu.be/pmk7tTttyQ8

Fuzzy
11/10/2015 4:46am,
Excellent. Now you need a shield.

TEA
11/10/2015 5:08pm,
Yes, if I'm going to do any kind of proper training, I'll need a shield for my offhand. I'll probably go with a low budget homemade one out of plywood.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02IvxvGh-A8

Less historically accurate, but some good pointers on material:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyai2TqTTe0

Fuzzy
11/11/2015 5:00am,
Yes, if I'm going to do any kind of proper training, I'll need a shield for my offhand. I'll probably go with a low budget homemade one out of plywood.

I've just finished mine.

If I might give you a tip: be careful of over-laminating, the more glue you use the heavier the shield. Mine is just over 5kg and its a total bitch to use.

TEA
11/13/2015 5:17pm,
I've just finished mine.

If I might give you a tip: be careful of over-laminating, the more glue you use the heavier the shield. Mine is just over 5kg and its a total bitch to use.

I was thinking the amount of resin he used in the second video would make for a heavy shield. Also, I would think using plywood rather than planks would be heavier for the same thickness because of the glue in the plywood. Plywood is cheaper and easier to work with, but you get a pretty big weight gain. For working out, I'd think a heavier shield would be OK, but for sparring or fighting, lighter would be better. From what I've been reading, Viking shields were pretty disposable and not really expected to survive more than a copious of engagements.

Jim Giant
3/16/2016 9:03pm,
I was thinking the amount of resin he used in the second video would make for a heavy shield. Also, I would think using plywood rather than planks would be heavier for the same thickness because of the glue in the plywood. Plywood is cheaper and easier to work with, but you get a pretty big weight gain. For working out, I'd think a heavier shield would be OK, but for sparring or fighting, lighter would be better. From what I've been reading, Viking shields were pretty disposable and not really expected to survive more than a copious of engagements.

Disposable doesn't mean not durable necessarily. They would last a lot more than a couple of engagements but you'd chose to get a new one anyway so you'd have a shield in top condition just like you'd refill a magazine even if you only fired one shot. With your life on the line you'd want any advantage you could get!

In a modern re-enactment/hema context with blunt weapons you'd expect a shield to last months or years.